Poetry from ASIAM (Boston College’s Asian American Literary Journal) and original short works:
There was a time I thought I’d never make it out. There was a time it seemed so impossible, so unreachable, my simple goal of leaving.
I felt the heavy weights dragging behind me, keeping me there. My ankles were bleeding, my shoulders were broken. I left a trail of red but my faithful tears always cleaned up the mess I made.
I remember wandering around, aimless, hopeless, alone. There was no other time in my life where I felt that devoid of light and life.
I remember hiding in my room, allowing the chains to tie me to my bed. Giving in to the exhaustion without actually being able to sleep. No rest, just an endless struggle to breathe.
Fighting against the tides, I gave up so many times. I drifted, I drowned. I wanted so desperately to never come up for air and yet I was so scared of losing my ability to expand my lungs. I was caught in an endless back and forth where my body simply forfeited.
So many motions I went through to fool myself into thinking I wasn’t dying.
So many actions I did to fool others I wasn’t already dead.
My body was barely standing. I was barely existing. I was so angry that I woke up with another day to face because I was so convinced that I couldn’t do this anymore.
Tears kept me guarded as the wind shoved me forward. Falling onto my face, time and time again, I grew used to the taste of dirt and asphalt, gravel and soil. Broken teeth and broken hearts.
I envied those gone.
Rather be somewhere else, anywhere else than here, forced to carry on, act alive to keep my death a secret.
But now, as I return a woman reborn, it’s bittersweet to feel the pain of yesterday. To revisit the many sites where I wished I was no more. It still pulls at my heart to sit in the room I felt the warmth of my own blood for the first time, to wear the clothes I drowned in.
To cope, I’ve learned to separate myself from that person from so long ago. I have a new home to go to and a plane to catch to reach it. I can now leave the place I so desperately longed to Years before. I have survived and changed and grown and morphed into the version I needed back then. And for that, there is remorse and regret that I couldn’t help who I was when I didn’t even know I needed it. I wish I could’ve told myself that everything would work out, to not let myself keep running from who I was, that the moment I opened my heart would be the day I truly became me.
But I can’t. And so I turn my back with one hand extended forward and one towards that place. In case anyone needs someone to hang on to, someone to show them the hope they don’t even know they need, someone to help them stop the actions they’re doing to signal to the world how much pain they’re in.
In case anyone, in case I myself, ever need someone, just in case, I keep it open. Even as I move forward, I’m there.
The golden hour:
We ran through the streets with sweat rolling off our backs. Our fingers interlaced, we swerved through the crowds stopping to look up at this building or that and ducked under store awnings to avoid the occasional drops of rain. The way our lungs seemed to rise and fall, the way our legs shook every time we stopped, made me think we wouldn’t make it but once we saw the archway, I knew we would.
There were only a few minutes left of daylight and we looked at each other at the corner of Bowery and Canal. Her eyes glimmered, the streaks of setting sun highlighting all the shades of brown I fell in love with so many years ago. She shook her head, urging us forward, and we sprinted across the intersection. Dodging car after car, leaving their honks in our wake, I thought we’d made it. We were right there.
My left foot touched the sidewalk when I felt your hand jerk backwards and slip away. I couldn’t hold onto you. Something pulled you, took you from me. I didn’t understand. We were practically on the sidewalk. Where had you gone? What happened?
I turned around and saw your body splayed on the crosswalk in front of a car ready to reverse and drive away. I didn’t want to believe what I saw in front of me, so instead of going to you, I picked up the empty garbage can on the corner and threw it at the car’s windshield. I was ready to do everything except see you, like this, accept this as reality.
But the moment it clattered onto the street, something punched me in the head and pushed me towards you. How dare you waste the time you have left with her. So I ran to you and propped your head onto my lap. Your eyes had already glazed over and your hand twitched alone for the last time as some onlooker called 9-1-1 because I was too busy cursing and screaming at the man behind the cracked windshield. I’m so sorry.
The young man opened his car and approached me, shouting, but I couldn’t hear him. All I felt was you. You were still warm. How could that be when your life was over? How were you still giving me warmth? Still giving me anything when they had taken everything from you?
To the home that is no more:
I look into that empty space and I can feel the water well in my eyes, threatening to expose how broken I still am. Letting go hasn’t ever been something I’ve been very good at, and I guess this is just another reminder of that. See, logically, I know that this all makes sense. Things were bound to happen some day, and when the time is right, it’s right. What could take months, takes days, hours even. And now, in what feels like the blink of an eye, a singular inhale-exhale, you’re gone. And I never even got to say goodbye.
I think that that’s what’s getting me, actually. You just left me without notice. After 19 years together, you’d think I’d have deserved more than a simple note. You’d think we could have at least shared one last night together, reminiscing about all the times we’d been through. The transformations that happened in that bed, on that floor, by those windows. The destruction and growth, the utter heartbreak and healing, I spent so much of my life with you as you did with me. We were each others’ first and I can’t possibly imagine you with someone else. I don’t want to.
…because where will I go now? You’ve left me homeless. I know that your home can be in different places with different people, but you were my home. You held my heart and kept me safe while making me feel so tantalizingly dangerous. The tragic depths and soaring heights we flew, I close my eyes and it’s like I’m living through them all over again. Year after year, there were so many days I never thought I’d get out, when the lines on my blinds felt like bars on my windows. I grew terrified of sleeping with mirrors because I’d grown so afraid of what I saw in my reflection. Day after day of fighting off enemies I didn’t even know were real yet. Broken glass sprinkled around me, the sounds of doors slamming and plates crashing and foots stomping kept me company. I tried to bring the sun in once, but it died, or at least I thought it had.
But when those times passed, or before they ever happened, you embraced me in a way I knew was so much more than what anyone else would be able to ever understand. Your love transcended words and we scarred our faces with laughter. On days when the world was too much, I’d run to you. You’d gently stroke my hair as I cried into your love. Warmth encapsulated my body and I felt myself grow with the help of your touch. We were magical and my heart still beats a little faster as I remember those times.
Then I remember. You’re no longer there. You’ve run away as if I meant nothing, as if all those memories we wrote meant nothing. Wasn’t it you who saw me through goodbye after goodbye? Cradling me as I broke through yet another disappearance in my life? Didn’t you see me desperately waiting for them to come back so I could tell them how much I loved them, how much I’d miss them?
Why would you hurt me like this?
How could you leave me like this?
And yet, as angry as I am right now, and believe me, I am furious, I want you to know, that I will always love you. That I credit much of my success to you, my growth, and my simple existence in this life. You saved me time and again, and I have come so much closer to growing the wings I’ve often dreamed of, thanks to you.
So if we ever meet again, which I doubt we ever will, I want you to know that no matter how much time passes you will always be my home.
Personal narratives, essays, commentaries on current events, and poetry can be found on my medium page here.